North Carolina (19-3, 7-1 ACC) vs. Miami (13-6, 3-4 ACC)
Coral Gables, Fla. – Watsco Center
Saturday, 1 p.m.
CBS (Ian Eagle, Bill Raftery)
“It was very important to win this game. We knew we needed to take care of home court and get on the right track.” – Miami guard Bruce Brown following Wednesday’s win over Boston College
“That’s seven straight. We’ve got to move on and try to win this next one. Miami’s a really good team.” – UNC wing Justin Jackson following the win over Virginia Tech
Heels Rolling Along: UNC has won seven straight ACC games after dropping its opener at Georgia Tech and now finds itself in sole possession of first place in the conference standings. The Tar Heels knocked down a season-high 14 3-pointers and outrebounded Virginia Tech, 43-22, in making quick work of the Hokies on Thursday. Despite the 19-point victory, Roy Williams continued to harp on his team’s defensive efforts. UNC is allowing conference opponents to shoot 44.3 percent from the floor, which is good for sixth in league play. Wing Justin Jackson is pacing UNC with 20.4 points per game in ACC contests.
Miami Spotlight: The Hurricanes return to the Watsco Center for a three-game home stand after playing three straight on the road. With only nine scholarship players eligible this season, head coach Jim Larranaga has relied on a trio of upperclassmen to balance the remaining youth on his roster. Miami entered ACC play with 11 wins in its first 13 games before losing four of its first six league games. The Hurricanes outplayed Duke in the first half at Cameron Indoor last weekend before falling, but bounced back to secure a 78-77 win over Boston College on Wednesday.
Reed Excelling: Senior guard Davon Reed has carried the scoring load for Miami all season long. He’s also elevated his game in ACC play, boosting his scoring average from 14.2 points to 17.9 points in seven conference games. He’s topped 18 points five times and has knocked down 21 3-pointers, shooting 40.4 percent from deep in ACC play.
Canes Relying on Defense: While Miami has struggled at times to consistently score the ball, Larranaga’s squad has proven to be one of the better defensive teams in the ACC. The Hurricanes are fifth in the league in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 39.9 percent shooting, while ranking fourth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (31.7). Miami ranks 27th in adjusted defensive efficiency (93.8), according to kenpom.com, while limiting its opponents to a 45.2 effective field goal percentage (18th).
Matchup to Watch: UNC’s dominance on the glass has been well-documented – the Tar Heels lead the country with a plus-14.5 rebound margin – as Kennedy Meeks ranks second nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (17.8). Rebounding is also a strength for the Hurricanes, who rank third in league games with a plus-4.1 rebound margin. It’s largely a group effort for Larranaga’s squad as five different players average four or more rebounds per game, led by senior forward Kamari Murphy (8.1). UNC is outscoring its opponents by 10.6 points in second-chance opportunities, which is a differential the Hurricanes will attempt to minimize. Miami ranks 19th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (36.2).
Stat of Note: Miami has won 22 of its last 23 games at home.
Last Meeting: UNC defeated Miami, 96-71, in Chapel Hill on Feb. 20, 2016. The Tar Heels built a 42-33 halftime lead and blew the game open with a 10-0 run to open the second half. UNC shot 54 percent from the floor and was led by Brice Johnson’s 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Series Record: The Tar Heels lead the series, 20-6. The series is tied 4-4 during Larranaga’s six seasons in South Florida.
Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 15.5 ppg, 4.0 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 13.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 12.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 18.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg
24 Kenny Williams (6-4, 180, So.) - 6.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg
5 Tony Bradley (6-11, 240, Fr.) – 7.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg
1 Theo Pinson (6-6, 211, Jr.) – 6.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg
0 Nate Britt (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 5.0 ppg, 2.6 apg
Projected Miami Starters:
21 Kamari Murphy (6-8, 220, Sr.) – 6.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg
00 Ja’Quan Newton (6-2, 187, Jr.) – 15.1 ppg, 3.6 apg
03 Anthony Lawrence (6-7, 210, So.) - 6.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
05 Davon Reed (6-6, 220, Sr.) – 15.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg
11 Bruce Brown (6-5, 190, Fr.) – 11.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg
04 D.J. Vasiljevic (6-3, 198, Fr.) – 6.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg
15 Ebuka Izundu (6-10, 231, So.) - 4.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg
20 Dewan Huell (6-11, 220, Fr.) – 6.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg